The 471-day shutdown of Broadway, the longest in its historical past, ended Saturday night time in a means none of us ever anticipated — with Bruce Springsteen.
Leapfrogging the normal razzle-dazzle musicals like “Hamilton,” “Wicked” and “The Lion King,” which is able to return on Sept. 14, The Boss kicked off a 30-performance restricted engagement of his solo present this weekend on the St. James Theatre.
While the summer season stint is bound to assist reinvigorate the struggling Times Square neighborhood — which has suffered from crime, homelessness and stagnation throughout the pandemic — Springsteen by no means uttered the phrase “Broadway” as soon as on Saturday, regardless of his historic function in reopening it.
“It’s great to be here,” Springsteen mentioned to his excited viewers, who needed to show they have been vaccinated to take their seats and shout “Bruuuuuuuuuce!”
“No masks, sitting next to each other in one room.”
The crowd roared.
Besides us plebeians, additionally sitting in these freshly dusted theater chairs have been rocker Steven van Zandt, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten, Jujamcyn Theaters President Jordan Roth, Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell and MSNBC journalist Brian Williams.
“Springsteen on Broadway” ran on the smaller Walter Kerr Theatre a couple of blocks away for greater than a year again in 2017 and 2018. It was an enormous success and was filmed for Netflix. In his newest run, quite a lot of the “Born in the USA” singer’s banter is similar, as are his tune decisions. But he did get candid about his current scandal.
Springsteen instructed us that throughout the pandemic he launched a brand new album, made a podcast with Barack Obama … and was very publicly arrested in New Jersey for a DWI (the fees have been dropped).
“I was handcuffed and thrown in jail,” he mentioned. “That took some doin’ … I didn’t wake up one morning, get on my motorcycle and say, ‘I’ll go to jail!”
Like he was performing a stand-up set as a substitute of a live performance, The Boss ended the bit with this zinger: “My case was, ‘The United States vs. Bruce Springsteen.’ That’s always comforting to hear — the entire nation is against you!”
Springsteen, 71, performed and sang like he had by no means taken a months-long break from stay exhibits, although there was one speck of rust. He flubbed a line within the tune “10th Avenue Freeze-Out,” which he duetted on with his spouse, Patti Scialfa. He made a joke of it.
“She loves me even when I f–k it up,” he mentioned, with his lady on his arm.
For a consummate performer like Springsteen, the deeply personal present was routine, however rattling was it inspiring for me and the remainder of the viewers. On Saturday, we realized that vacationers are again. Everytime Springsteen talked about a city — San Francisco, Phoenix, Asbury Park — there have been loud cheers from individuals who stay there. He needed to inform the out-of-towners to “shut the f–k up.”
Then, on the finish, strolling out onto forty fourth Street was like coming into the Land of Oz. Maskless followers mobbed the stage door ready for his or her idol to emerge, and Times Square was teeming with life. Two months in the past, if somebody described such a scene, you’d inform them to sober up and search remedy.
The wondrous night time was a welcome reminder that Times Square, Broadway theaters and exhibits should not meant to be shut down. Baby, they’re born to run.